WASHINGTON — When the Lightning lost to the Capitals in Washington two weeks ago, it believed it deserved a better fate after outshooting the Southeast Division leaders in one of its better efforts.
But Washington left little doubt Friday night what the Lightning's fate should be with a 6-0 drubbing in a sold-out showdown at the Verizon Center. The Lightning (13-8-2) snapped a five-game winning streak and, at 28 points, dropped six in the division behind the first-place Capitals, who showed why they're No. 1 in the Eastern Conference.
"We just got outworked … plain and simple," center Steven Stamkos said. "I thought we were soft all over the ice — the setups, the power play, in our own end. You can't expect to win (playing like that), especially against a team like that."
Said coach Guy Boucher: "I don't think we could have beaten a bantam team tonight."
What frustrated the Lightning was that everything it did well during its winning streak was lacking.
"You can't expect to beat a powerful team like that coming in with your lowest work ethic and lowest level of execution," Boucher said.
"I'm pretty sure there's tons of turkey feathers out there on the ice from the first minute to the last."
Washington, which entered the game having lost three of four, jumped on Tampa Bay from the get-go, outshooting the Lightning 10-4 in the opening period. Though Tampa Bay was down just 1-0 after it, Boucher knew something was wrong.
"After the first period, we had the flattest bench we had all year long," he said.
The Capitals broke the game open in the second period, with Alexander Semin delivering most of the damage. He racked up a hat trick — his second in as many games against the Lightning this season — in a five-minute flurry. All three goals came from around the left circle, with Semin scoring twice on the power play (one on a five-on-three) and another time when a Tampa Bay turnover turned into a Washington odd-man rush.
Each time, the Lightning goalie had little chance.
"He's deadly from that spot," defenseman Mike Lundin said.
Goaltender Mike Smith, who had won four straight, was pulled nine minutes into the second, having allowed four goals on 18 shots. It was almost as many goals as Smith had allowed in his previous three starts combined. Dan Ellis gave up the final two goals, including Semin's third, on nine shots.
Boucher said there was no use in pointing fingers at individual players. It was a team loss, he said.
"There's no excuse," Stamkos said. "We had five wins in a row. We should have felt good about ourselves. It's unacceptable."
First Period—1, Washington, Carlson 3 (Johansson), 3:09. Penalties—Ohlund, TB (tripping), 15:11; Alzner, Was (interference), 19:59.
Second Period—2, Washington, Erskine 3 (Fahey, Laich), 4:38. 3, Washington, Semin 15 (Johansson), 6:52. 4, Washington, Semin 16 (Backstrom, Ovechkin), 8:56 (pp). 5, Washington, Semin 17 (Backstrom, Ovechkin), 11:21 (pp). Penalties—Erskine, Was (boarding), 2:05; Ritola, TB (tripping), 8:11; Stamkos, TB (interference), 9:38; Ohlund, TB (tripping), 11:02; Alzner, Was (holding), 14:48; Knuble, Was (high-sticking), 15:37.
Third Period—6, Washington, Poti 2 (Hendricks), 14:46. Penalties—Malone, TB, major (fighting), 7:02; Erskine, Was, major (fighting), 7:02; Fahey, Was (slashing), 8:09. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 4-7-6—17. Washington 10-14-5—29. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 5; Washington 2 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 8-4-0 (18 shots-14 saves), Ellis (8:56 second, 11-9). Washington, Varlamov 2-1-0 (17-17). A—18,398 (18,398).